‘An Evening For Walter Trout’ was an unforgettable event with 65 musicians – including a posse of guitarists with borrowed amps – plus Walter Trout’s road and sound crew, all coming together to share their love for the blues-rock icon who is currently waiting for a liver transplant.
From the mid-day get in of the back line, to the final note at 10.55pm, this was never anything less than a shining example of genuine camaraderie, as egos were set aside and a ‘can do’ spirit prevailed.
The blues rock community turned out in force for Walter, with no less than 4 of his protégés – Ian Parker, Danny Bryant, Mitch Laddie and Laurence Jones – making sure his musical lineage is in good hands.
The pre-prep work and sound check was the key to the whole evening. The 9 piece Flamingo All Stars acted as the house band and they proved to be so well schooled and versatile that the whole evening ran smoothly without a hitch.
Roger Chapman arrived first, all smiles and full of anticipation, followed by Jon Trout, straight from the airport, still slightly worried as he’d missed a planned meeting with Danny Bryant, who had flown in from Germany.
Otis Grand trimmed his set to fit into the bill, before putting the excellent Flamingo band through their paces, including one double-time romp, while Bernie Marsden came closest to a full scale rehearsal. And after a near mid afternoon free for all, everything magically fell into place and the doors opened on time.
The Flamingo Club All Stars set an incredibly high standard for the evening with the Paul Butterfield favourite ‘Born In Chicago’. Led by John O’Leary on vocals and harp, and supported by Alan Glen on guitar, the band made the first of several poignant Walter Trout connections during the night – Trout’s favourite guitarist being the Butterfield ace player Mike Bloomfield.
White boy soul singer Paul Cox took over and tore into a stirring three song set, including his own bluesy ‘I Got The Proof’ and the crowd pleasing ‘Some Kind Of Wonderful’.
Stephen Dale Petit was the epitome of cool as he brought feel and restraint to a ‘Have You Ever Loved A Woman’, while Marcus Malone added soulful phrasing to his flamboyant presence with his self penned, stop-time shuffle ‘Slow Down’.
Ian Parker was the first of Walter’s protégés. Surprisingly he chose 3 covers including the harmony laden ‘Everyday I Have The Blues’ and a delicate version of ‘Little Wing’, full of intricate guitar work and real feel that gained him a huge response.
Protégé #2 Laurence Jones made the first of three appearances with a 4 song set that included the barn burning ‘Soul Swamp River’ and the guitar avalanche ‘Falling From The Sky’.
Mitch Laddie reminded us of Walter’s ability to write moving ballads, as he covered the guitar instrumental ‘Marie’s Mood’. The effervescent Andrew Elt joined him for some intense rocking on Walter’s ‘Mercy’, on which Elt’s incredible banshee wail was perfectly offset by Mitch’s searing solo.
Danny Bryant poignantly rounded off part one of the evening with John O’Leary on harp and Nick Newall on sax, on the deep blues ‘Days Like This’. His emotive vocal and a defining solo full of ringing notes and volume swells will surely make Walter smile.
Part two opened with a bang, as Del Bromham’s expanded 6 piece Stray featured the fiery harp player Stevie Smith and Cherry Lee Mewis, who brought a joy de vivre to the narrative driven ‘Ballad Of JD’ and the Trout style ‘Words’.
Bassist Glynn Evans moved from the drum riser to the front to join Bernie Marsden, who brought class and polish on three songs. The beautifully nuanced, meandering blues ‘A Place In My Heart’ was a highlight and featured Nick Newall on sax and Alan Glen on harp.
Each artist seemed to bring an extra layer to the cake, no more so than the blues catalyst himself Otis Grand. His instrumental ‘C Minor Blues’, a cutting edge boogie and the swinging ‘Bye Bye Blues’ with Marcus Malone on vocals was sublime, while Laurence joined Otis for a guitar wig out on Larry Williams’ ‘Slow Down’, as Marcus successfully exhorted the crowd to join in.
Cometh the hour, cometh the man, and Family legend Roger Chapman went back to his blues roots for Sonny Boy’s ‘Help Me’ which is a traditional Walter Trout opener. He revelled on Jimmy Reed’s ‘Shame Shame Shame’ and growled out a mean ‘Got My Brand On You’, by which time he stomped the stage, waved his first at the balcony, and swore about the fact he had to relearn old blues lyrics, in a magical moment.
Jon Trout’s major gig debut proved to be an emotional moment, but with a helping hand from the house band and Andrew Elt, Walter’s son nailed the reason why we were all here with a slow blues ‘When My Dad Plays The blues’. Jon’s opening solo got deserved roar from the crowd, before a gloriously ragged ‘Going Down’ (a traditional Walter set closer), including a Pete Lamont trombone solo, saw upwards of 20 musicians on the stand.
It was left to Walter’s tour manager/vocalist Andrew Elt to send out a final heartfelt message to the man for who so much goodwill had been generated on a memorable night.
Review by Pete Feenstra
All Photos by Mark Hughes (c) MHP*
* last 3 by Blake Powell
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Pete Feenstra celebrated his 300th show in October 2019. Pete heads up a five-hour blues rock marathon when “Tuesday is Bluesday” from 19:00 GMT. Listen out also for his interview-based Feature show on Sundays (20:00 GMT)
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